FedEx & UPS Dimensional Weight Calculator & Mistakes to Avoid

Cody Cromwell
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FedEx & UPS Dimensional Weight Examples

In this example, we are sending a large package from Arizona to Chicago, IL via FedEx.

Ship Date: 4-25-2017

Order Codes: NH22HD, NCDON13

Carrier: FedEx

Pickup: 5-2-2017

Destination Address: CN698, Chicago, Illinois 60686

Order Name: FH1CH1


Ship Date: 4-26-2017

Order Codes: 393012Z51, 93792U0000

Carrier: UPS

Destination Address: CN217, Chicago, Illinois 60668

Order Name: BABBA59

Different Shippers, Different Dimensional Weight.

What you‘re seeing in the example is that the Dimensional Weight is based on the amount you have to pay to ship your package. Let’s break it down.

In this case, Shipper 1 and Shipper 2 have a Dimensional Weight of approximately 27 pounds, because they are both a three digit number. So Dimensional Weight= 32 pounds. But the difference between the two can be explained by the weight of the package and the actual weight of the package.

2018 Dimensional Weight Formulas for Major Carriers

The Dimensional Calculator looks at valuable details about your shipment and assigns a weight and shipping cost based on Table 3-1, FedEx Dimensional Weight Table, Table 4-1, Dimensional Weight for Common Boundary and Postal Weight Packages, and Table 10A, UPS Air Capacity and Dimensional Weight Table .

Finding the dimensional weight of your shipment can help you avoid incorrectly priced and oversized freight charges, allowing UPS and FedEx to provide the right service with your packages. The Dimensional Calculator takes into account the general guidelines and rules for the dimensional weight listed in Table 3-1, Table 4-1 and Table 10A, while also looking at the type of freight being shipped.

When using the Dimensional Calculator, be sure to:

  • Select the largest load, if weighing multiple packages or pallets, to determine the total dimensional weight.
  • Dimensional weight is based on the size of the package, not the content.
  • Packages can be up to 75 inches long and 69 inches tall, or 168 cubic inches.
  • The black line in the technology ruler is the maximum size for UPS, while the white line is the maximum size for FedEx. Depending on the delivery requirements, they use different tolerances.
  • The Dimensional Calculator includes Canada Post. If you're shipping to Canada, give your shipments a margin of error.

FedEx & UPS Dimensional Weight Formula for 2018

The new dimensional weight formula will apply to all shipments that ship by FedEx or UPS. It starts January 1, 2018 – that’s a full 17 months away ” so you’ll have plenty of time to start planning your new shipping policies and pricing.

The most important new rule is that customers will have to provide a dimensional weight quote for the entire shipment prior to leaving the warehouse. This quote will be based on the actual dimensions of the shipment, including dimensions that are not typically visible. Carriers will collect and charge a dimensional weight fee based on the actual weight of the shipment.

To make things easier, FedEx has provided dimensional weight formulas based on various dimensional combinations. Create custom formulas to provide accurate weight quotes using the formulas below or by downloading them from the FedEx website.

Once you’ve determined a price for your shipment, look for other opportunities to reduce weight. You can reduce weight on any portions of your package prior to shipping by reclassifying or selecting less expensive International Air Transportation Routes for your shipment.

You can also reduce weight by becoming a FedEx Authorized ShipCenter or FedEx Authorized Freight Forwarder.

One important thing to remember is that your first shipment…will cost more with the new dimensional weight rules than it would have under the previous weight formulas.

USPS Dimensional Weight Formula for 2018

How many packages can you ship in a single box? The answer is: up to 200 pounds, which is your allowed dimensional weight. A package’s dimensional weight is the maximum weight that the package can be and still safely fit in a box. You’ll see that your total weight may be less than 200 pounds, but the dimensional weight of your package is the total weight of the package and any contents that need to fit in the box.

Let’s add up the dimensions of the package you’re sending to calculate your actual weight. While length and width are easy to determine, height is the trickiest dimension to figure. To do this, you’ll need the total height of the box divided by the number of inches it’s thick. Now you can add up the dimensional weights of all the sides of the package to figure out your exact weight. The weight of the package needs to equal the weight of the contents plus one hundred pounds.

Now that you have that all nailed down, you need to build a package strong enough to safely carry and protect the contents. To do this, you’ll want to use packaging that’s rated to carry at least five times the weight of your contents. This means that your IFE tray tray should not exceed 125 pounds.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping in 2018

UPS is one of the few shipping companies to have a website dedicated to calculating the dimensional weight and dimensional weight charges for a package. This is convenient, but only if you know what each box used for your package is supposed to do and if you use the information correctly.

Knowing that your package is oversized or overweight is one thing; understanding what to do about it is much more difficult. Keep in mind that UPS is most likely planning to charge you for your package. They are not planning to outright donate or give away valuable space.

If you ship a package that is oversized or overweight, you either need to reduce the weight or pay the extra charge. There is no way that they’re going to do the latter. These two alternatives are in their best interest; they are keeping the space with valuable assets.

You can reduce the weight of your package by removing the extra items. Make sure that you remove and remove only the goods that do not belong in the package. You might be required to fill out a separate form for each item that is removed from the package so ask for more information. Remember also, that if you are shipping goods by air, you are not required to fill out a separate form for each item.

Mistake 1: Not Considering Product Size when Sourcing Goods

The main mistake people make when they make a dimensional weight calculator is to calculate the volume of the goods instead of determining the accurate weight of the goods. For example, large sized packages might be heavier than the smaller ones but they also have a larger footprint. So there were two incorrect ways you can misuse dimensional weight calculator.

Mistake 2: Using Dimensional Weight in Stores

If you decided to use the dimensional weight calculator to calculate the shipping fee in stores, just remember that the dimensional weight calculator only helps to calculate the fee with the package weight. More often than not, store deals include the merchandise weight and a fixed fee rate together. In other words, the dimensional weight calculator only works for the weight given in the calculation.

Mistake 3: Shipping to Multiple Locations

The dimensional weight calculator is specifically designed for one location and not for multi-location shipping. For example, if you decide to ship a single package to Los Angeles, our dimensional weight calculator would determine the volume of the package. However, if the same package was to be shipped to many different locations across the country, it would do a poor job of determining the cost.

Mistake 2: Not Scrutinizing Your Box Sizes & Packing Materials

Many companies automatically calculate the dimensional weight of your package based on the size of the package and the material you are sending, as long as the package meets the overall dimension size of the box. If you are not using a professional packing service for your package, the box you send your package in will most likely be the largest one that you have. If your package weighs too much, you will have to pay additional fees and the shipper may be reluctant to ship it, or you may have to return it.

Luckily, the shipping industry is a lot more savvy than it used to be. FedEx, for example, differentiates between various weight categories, which are divided into "virtual boxes" (3 pounds and under) and "weight boxes" (over 3 pounds). For a lighter package, FedEx offers free shipping on all packages regardless of the size. For heavier packages, there are options for varying options for additional fees depending on what you are shipping and where you are sending it. To learn more about the differences between these packages, visit FedEx’ website.

For your own sake, take a good look at your package to make sure it is made of the right materials. Make sure your package isn’t too heavy overall for the package size or it may have to be returned. Also, be sure that the package is the right size (length, width, and height) for the box you are using as well.

Mistake 3: Not Considering Custom-made Boxes

The biggest mistake is underestimating how much the dimensions of the box will affect the amount of packaging for a mission that has to go almost all the way to the other side of the world.

There is another problem to look out for, and that is a box that is too heavy by its own weight but which, by its size, looks like it’s small enough to make it through customs. If custom officials wanted to know about the weight of the box, they would have to do quite a lot of work to get to the bottom of the problem, and that is called extra handling. Customs can ask for extra duties and taxes based on the amount of handling a package has. That’s why it’s better not to assume that small boxes are not taxed.

Fortunately, FedEx and UPS now offer dimensional weight calculation for packages and boxes, giving customers more accurate information about what can and cannot be sent through customs.

Mistake 4: Not Looking into Flat-Rate Boxes

And Crush-Proof Boxes (e.g., FedEx Freight Boxes)

Most people don’t realize that there are seamless boxes for packaging products, and there are also boxes that can be returned by the Postal Service.

Here’s the stupid truth: More of your stuff will fit in more boxes if they’re oversized. This is where FedEx’s FedEx Freight programs come in very handy. These FedEx Freight Boxes weigh less than 120 pounds, the maximum weight for postal packages. These boxes are not technically flat-rate because they are oversized, but they are much easier to calculate and pack than their normal FedEx Express Boxes. A normal FedEx Freight Box (not a box from FedEx Freight) sometimes weighs up to 500 pounds.

If you’re a small retailer, you can probably never justify these big FedEx Freight Boxes. Large operations in the industrial, commercial, and manufacturing sectors can probably benefit from them if they want to send big things via FedEx Freight.

Mistake 5: Not Comparing Carrier Rates

To be effective in your multi-carrier ROI calculation, it’s important that you include your own carrier’s rates to compare with the other options. Based on the information you already know about your own shipping costs, you could gain some insight into what others would do. However, if you don’t consider the rates and costs of using your own company, you could be making an inaccurate calculation.

After you decide to evaluate multi-carrier ROI, you will be researching potential shipment options. Most people assume that, if they are evaluating multi-carrier ROI, they must consider both FedEx and UPS’s rates. While this is true, it’s important to remember that USPS offers very economical rates and has rates well below FedEx and UPS. Depending on your business volume, you may not see a difference in your return on investment when comparing FedEx and UPS’s rates with USPS’s rates. However, it is possible to see a difference in your return on investment when uploading shipping using a third-party outside the intercompany system versus uploading your mail using USPS’s intercompany carrier.

Considering your own transport rates will give you an insight as to why you may or may not see a difference in your return on investment.

Mistake 6: Not Factoring in Surcharges

The U.S. Postal Service is one of the most famous shipping weight carriers. They are known for their fast operations because of their large fleet and streamlined processing. The UPS and FedEx on the other hand are typically used for large volume packages through their integrated systems.

But how can you know what a standard shipping weight is when first starting out with your online or retail business?

It’s important to start with a basic surcharge you will be expected to pay regardless of carrier and shipping category when shipping your packages. There are special rules and regulations for each of the three carriers (FedEx, UPS, and USPS). For instance, although you can’t go wrong with UPS or FedEx, you must be sensitive to the USPS rule and methods.

Believe me, lots of retailers make the mistake of not considering the surcharge when quoting the weight of their product.

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